The story of a modern-day Jonah who was swallowed by a whale and miraculously survived to tell his story is drawing worldwide attention.
The tale of almost biblical proportions is about a lone lobster diver who was swallowed whole by a massive humpback whale.
Fifty-seven-year-old commercial lobster diver Michael Packard was diving Friday morning off Herring Cove Beach when he was suddenly swallowed by a huge whale.
Packard plucks lobsters off the ocean floor while his partner, on the boat’s surface, monitors his safety, but on Friday, Packard became the hunted.
He was 45 feet below the surface when the whale swallowed him. “All of a sudden, I just felt this huge bump, and everything went dark,” he said.
“And I could sense that I was moving. And I was like … did I just get bit by a shark? And then I felt around, and I realized there was no teeth. And I felt really no great pain. And then I realized … I’m in a whale’s mouth, and he’s trying to swallow me. And I thought to myself, Okay, this is it. … I’m going to die.”
Packard thought about his family, including his boys, ages 12 and 15. “I was completely inside,” Packard said. He was wearing heavy scuba gear and was still able to breathe, he tried fighting the whale, which began “throwing his head side to side.” Packard said he eventually “saw light.”
“All of a sudden, he went up to the surface, and just erupted and started shaking his head, and I just got thrown in the air and landed in the water,” Packard said. “And I just floated. And I was just, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe I got out of that. I’m here to tell it. I thought my legs were broken, but I’m [only] all bruised up. I made it.”
Packard was at the mercy of the whale’s desires. “It was happening so fast. My only thought was, how to get out of that mouth? And I realized there was no overcoming a beast of that size.”
“He was going to do with me what he wanted to do. It was either he spits me out, or he swallowed me. … I was actually in his mouth probably a good 30 seconds. But I still had my regulator on my mouth. I was still breathing.”
Packard, who was rescued by his crewman, Josiah Mayo, was taken to the Cape Cod Hospital. Jooke Robbins, director of Humpback Whale Studies at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Mass., said the humpback whale likely swallowed Packard by accident.
The story has become a viral topic on social media. “I’m wondering if the former president of a Baptist university who told me that no one still believes Jonah was swallowed by a whale has seen this?” tweeted Paul Chitwood, president of the International Mission Board.
“Jonah: ‘See…I told you guys it is possible,'” tweeted Matt Capps, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Apex, N.C.